Special Feature

Bangladeshis ‘sold as modern day slave’ unearthed in Thailand

22 Oct,2014

 

This year alone some 700 Bangladeshi victims of human trafficking were rescued in Thailand. For at least five years, the Andaman coast of Thailand has been the scene of some horrific abuses, mainly against ethnic Rohingyas.

 

Md. Kamruzzaman:

On 11th October 14, modern-day slavery has been unearthed in a rubber plantation deep in the jungle in Fhuket province of the Southern Thailand. 134 Bangladeshis sold as ‘slaves’ were rescued from that jungle. Eating leaves, the trafficked men survived for 10 days there. This discovery points out the human-trade that has taken a firm root in Bangladesh. The way men are trafficked and sold as slaves is a very sneaky tale.

  
Eighteen year-old Abdurrahim, from Bogra, in northern Bangladesh, he told that he was trying to find work in the capital Dacca when an elderly man offered him a job paying around $6 (Tk450) a day. He travelled with this man to Cox's Bazaar, he said, and was taken to a small house up in the hills. There he was tied up, drugged, and woke up on board a boat. He spent seven or eight days at sea, he says, where he was repeatedly beaten.

After that, the group was unloaded on the Thai coast, and taken to a camp hidden in a mangrove forest. They gave us no food, he said. "We survived by eating leaves."

 

Absar Mia is 27, from Teknaf, close to the border with Myanmar. He is married, with three young children. "My heart is burning for home," he said. "All I think about is how I can get home, how I can see my mother again, how I can see my little boys and girl again. That's why I'm crying."

He described being offered a job by a man, and waiting for him on a hill near Teknaf. Suddenly he was grabbed, his hands tied, his mouth gagged. He said he struggled as he was taken out to a boat, and was beaten.

 

Ayub was working as an agricultural labourer in Chittagong, southeast Bangladesh, but he said the work ran out. A man suggested he go to Cox's Bazaar. There he suddenly found himself being grabbed, tied up and forced onto a boat which he said was already crowded with people.

He repeatedly asked where they were taking him, but said the guards threatened to kill him if he did not shut up. He, too, has three children.

 

Beaten, abused and left with no food, these wretched men told a horrific tale of how they were abducted in the style of the 17th century slave trade in Africa and forced to work in the plantation in the most hazardous condition.

The Thai authorities discovered 81 trafficking victims, who were surrounded in a forest camp near the road, on October 13 and another 53 victims on October 11, constituting 134, reported to be Bangladeshi. Of these 134 people, 118 are Bangladeshis and the rest 16 are Rohingyas from Myanmar, said Mohammad Ehteshamul Haque, counsellor of the Bangladesh mission in Thailand, quoting the victims.

The Bangladesh Embassy officials in Thailand said this year alone some 700 Bangladeshi victims of human trafficking were rescued in that country. “Of them, 300 have already been repatriated. The rest are in the process of repatriation,” Ehteshamul told reporters.


 “Human traffickers lure these people with promise of jobs in Malaysia. But in case they [jobseekers] fail to make it to Malaysia, they [the traffickers] offload them in the coastal border of Thailand,” he said.

For at least five years, the Andaman coast of Thailand has been the scene of some horrific abuses, mainly against ethnic Rohingyas, a Muslim minority group fleeing persecution in Myanmar, also known as Burma.



Bangladesh is the world’s top densely populated country, with 1,237.51 persons per square kilometer within 130,168 km2 of land area. Here wage rate is extremely low. People living in relatively small area tend to go abroad for better fortune. Human-traders eye on this crucial fact, lure these faith-departed people with better earnings and finally sell them as slaves, ‘modern day slave’.

 

Image source: BBC TV News

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